Master in Arts and Society


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Preparing Arts Professionals for the Cultural Sector of the Future

The cultural world is in a state of rapid transformation due to technological innovation, urbanisation, economic globalisation, and an increasingly unpredictable sociopolitical landscape. All facets of the arts – practice, organisation, leadership, societal relevance, and internationalisation (in Europe and beyond) – are affected by this transformation. Utrecht University's Master of Arts and Society will prepare you to operate as a leading figure in the global arts, media, and cultural sectors of the future.

Our Master’s programme is designed to meet the urgent need for arts professionals who possess rigorous theoretical and research skills coupled with practical abilities and an acute awareness of the current state of the sector at the local and global levels. As a student in this programme, you will explore, for example, the dynamics and dilemmas within existing mainstream culture and its relationship with a growing number of “alternative” cultural practices, new models of creative production and industry, and the ever-increasing role of the arts in social justice.

Why Choose this Programme at Utrecht University?

Our Master’s programme is unique in many ways:

  • You will benefit from interdisciplinary programme content that places a special emphasis on grassroots and participatory arts in social contexts.
  • The Department of Media and Culture Studies, our programme's home, is a community of world-class scholars whose teaching and research complement Arts and Society.
  • You will be trained in highly innovative social research skills that combine methodological rigor, creative expression and critical engagement with the arts practices.
  • You will learn from faculty with international expertise and benefit from a curriculum with a global orientation.
  • Through our organisational partnerships in Europe, Africa, Asia-Pacific, North America, and Latin America, you will get a chance to meet and interact with arts professionals working in a wide variety of contexts.
  • You will have a broad range of opportunities for student exchange and joint research through our numerous academic partnerships across the globe.

After Graduation

With a Master in Arts and Society you will:

  • Have an understanding of the latest developments in international discourse on arts and society, which is fed by a variety of scholars from both the humanities and the social sciences.
  • Be able to formulate independent opinions and contribute to this discourse clearly and convincingly.
  • Possess academic and practical skills that you can implement effectively and creatively in your future professional career. You will have acquired these abilities in class, in the library, on the Internet, in practical work, and in the field where you will have carried out research into mainstream and alternative practices.

In your programme, you will have the opportunity to actively work on your career development.

Our Master’s programme prepares a new generation of creative critical thinkers and doers for the global cultural sector: cross-sector cultural partnerships (i.e. between arts and healthcare or arts and development), transitional processes of conventional cultural institutions looking for new audiences, research into the social and intrinsic value of art, and intercultural and international collaborations. Read more about possible career prospects.

Career Prospects

This programme focuses on transitional processes in existing institutions of the current cultural sector that are looking for new audiences and social relevance. It also focuses on emerging cultural practices in peripheral contexts (both urban and rural), and in public space, healthcare, the justice system (prisons), refugee environments, developing countries, and peace and reconciliation processes.

Obvious themes in these areas are the tensions between traditional and contemporary cultures (and the diversity within each of these), active and radical citizenship, and the centrality of human rights, i.e., the fundamental right to express oneself on one’s own terms.

A central question in all this is how participation in the arts relates to participation in society. It is an issue that all existing and newly emerging cultural organisations and artists cannot afford to ignore. Our students will prepare themselves for this and for all related challenges.

Possible Prospects

The Master's programme in Arts and Society prepares arts professionals for a range of careers:

  • Ministries of Culture
  • Urban Planning, Design and Strategy
  • Design Thinking and Creative Strategy and Research
  • Creative Management
  • Creative Producer
  • Arts collectives
  • Arts foundations
  • Grant-making foundations
  • Arts-focused public sector enterprise and non-profit organisations
  • Arts and entertainment companies
  • Festival/event conceptualisation and planning
  • Education, community outreach or audience development for mainstream arts institutions such as museums, galleries, theatres and concert halls.
  • Multi-sector arts-based initiatives (arts in hospitals, prisons, refugee centers, etc.)
  • Curating and programming internationally and cross-culturally
  • Arts-based community organizing and advocacy
  • Arts and cultural consulting
  • Arts and cultural policy advising at the local, national, regional and international levels
  • Arts and culture research, writing and criticism
  • Tourism policy and product development

Academic Careers

The main purpose of the programme is to prepare students for a professional career in the cultural sector. In principle, the two-year Research Master in Media, Arts, and Performance Studies provides better preparation for a PhD trajectory, but it is in some cases possible to continue in such a trajectory after finishing the Arts and Society programme.

Last updated May 2020

About the School

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of int ... Read More

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of international rankings, and member of the renowned European League of Research Universities. Read less